Warning To Absentee Voters

A GUARDIAN reader complained Wednesday that her request for an absentee ballot was sent to all the candidates by the county….she has been inundated with junk mail letters from politicos.

Turns out she was absolutely right. Ada County Clerk and chief election officer Dave Navarro tells us the REQUESTS for absentee ballots are a public record and a bunch of candidates and political parties have filed requests to get a daily e-mail list of the names of anyone applying for an absentee ballot.

If you decide to vote by mail, brace yourself for a deluge of political junk mail. They pretty well know for certain you will vote if you have the ballot, so they don’t waste their mail money on “resident” mass mailings when they can join you in the voting booth so to speak.

Navarro said the voter registration cards themselves are a public record as well and serve as the basis for many of the political party mailings and target campaigns.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Another example of where Idaho politics is in relation to the rest of the world.

    Most states that surround us have been doing this for a long-long time. Heck, Oregon does their entire election by mail ballot.

  2. All voter records are public records. Your registration information and voting history (not how you voted) are all available for anyone to examine. Parties and others can purchase CDs or print records for campaigns or analysis from any Idaho county.

    The political mail we’ll all receive in the next few weeks is a drop in the bucket of junk the postal service delivers every day. Much of the commercial mail we receive is based on much more detailed and insidious information collected from a variety of sources about what we buy and when, what we eat and drink, whether we have pets, what we drive, our religious persuasion, and our medical and financial history, to name just a few of the parameters for which data is collected every time we turn around. We should be outraged at this invasion of privacy and the millions of dollars and gallons of fuel that go into delivering garbage to our mailboxes every day of the year, not squealing about political crap that comes every two years.

    Guardian, I think your concern for privacy is misplaced in this instance. Don’t strain at the gnat and swallow the camel. Voter records and such are public as a method to prevent or at least potentially expose election fraud. People might be surprised that absentee ballot requests are public, but they shouldn’t be shocked.

    As a poll worker, I know that even faithful voters are sometimes ill, out of town, or like me, working the polls on election day. Absentee ballots are an alternative that works for may people, and in light of usual turnout, should be utilized more.

    Don’t scare people away from this voting alternative. If you get a wad of absentee requests, simply pass them on to someone else, wait three weeks and go back to recycling windshield glass coupons and tool closeout flyers.

    However you do it, go and vote.
    Unless of course you don’t support my candidate 😉

    EDITOR NOTE–Gnats and camels aside all we did was let folks know WHY they are getting the junk mail that mentions an absentee ballot application. We made no mention of privacy concerns. In fact we said it is all legal and the public info forms the basis of other mailings. We agree, VOTE any way you wish.

  3. Well, a headline like “Warning to Absentee Voters” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. It sounds like, well, a “warning” of something dangerous. If you wish to simply inform, use less expansive language.

    It is frustrating that so many people have so many misconceptions about the electoral process. Your presentation of WHY only tells part of the story.

    Why does a reader receive political mail after requesting ballot – request is public information.

    Why is request public information – to prevent fraud.

    Why is there a need to prevent fraud – because secret records and voters who don’t understand the process are more easily manipulated and disenfranchised.

    Here is another example of “expansive language” that may scare some people away from the polls.

    In Idaho, convicted felons who have completed their sentences, including probation, parole and restitution, are legally entitled to vote WITHOUT action from a court or the governor. They simply register and vote, that’s it (unless you’re convicted of treason).

    Voter registration cards include a check box asking

    In the past (in Ada County anyway), this was followed by:

    (felony conviction without restoration of constitutional rights)

    above the field warning:

    “UNDER PENALTY OF LAW:….I declare under oath or affirmation that the
    information supplied herein is true”

    Beside the check boxes the card now states:

    (Idaho felons rights are restored upon completion of full sentence)

    Both are technically correct, but which do you think makes it more clear exactly who can vote and sounds less intimidating?

    Or here’s another good one from not too soon to be Arizona resident, Laird Maxwell, who commissioned pro Prop 2 commercials saying the “Centennial Baptist Church” will be razed to make room for a strip mall. Of course it doesn’t specify that THIS Centennial Baptist Church is in Oklahoma, not Caldwell, as Treasure Valley residents are likely to assume. Golly gee says Laird, he had no idea.

    Just don’t spook the voters, they’re a skittery bunch.

    If you really want to get scared, look at the campaign finance disclosures for our federal officials, now that deserves a “warning”.

    Happy Friday!


  4. As someone working very hard as a precinct captain and as a part-time staffer on the Larry Grant campaign, I take exception to your using the term “junk mail” to describe all political mail.

    Candidates intend these mailings to help people make choices. Granted, there is some junkiness to much of it – Bill Sali’s current mailing falsely accuses Larry Grant of supporting amnesty for illegal aliens, among other distortions. But especially in local legislative races, direct mail and neighborhood lit drops are by far the best way for the candidates to reach their limited “universe” of voters. (It often isn’t realistic for a Boise-area state House candidate to buy newspaper, TV, or radio time, for example, when they only want to reach a small part of the metro population.)

    If the idea of this “junk mail” upsets you, forget about voting absentee and use early voting instead. Ada County’s early voting location in the old traffic court building on Barrister will be open starting Monday (October 16) for people to cast their ballot anytime they like between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays through the day before Election day. No fuss, no muss, and less mail.

    EDITOR NOTE– A Reader characterized the “junk” mail. Julie, do you really believe there is any “literature” in a so-called “lit drop?” Few readers would take exception to calling unsolicited advertising mail as “junk.” It is just like spam–and we don’t mean the Hawaiian meat treat!

    Good idea on the early voting at Barrister, thanks.

  5. Dearest Political Operatives: I will vote via mail, I will vote against those of you jackasses that bother me at home via phone or mail. I strongly encourage the remainder of the voters to take a similar stand against the invasive tactics.

  6. At least this is a matter of public record and how that public record should be used. Did you know when you sign up for a phone line through Qwest, they sell your name and address. I have a dentist friend that periodically purchased a list of “new” addresses for certain zipcodes in order to drum up new business.

  7. Yep, all legal and proper — and shows what sleezebags politicos are to take advantage of it.

    I read their speeches and statements, etc., and news stories about them, and try to balance the good with the bad and figure out which might be the lesser of two (or more) evils.

    But if I receive a spam phone call for a candidate, that puts him or her down about six points. Spam snailmail knocks off only a couple of points.

    By election day, I hope to have figured out which is the least slimy and vote for that one (and no, I don’t care whether s/he has a D or an R after the name — those designations have become meaningless).

    It’s been damned rare in any election for years that I’ve actually voted *for* any candidate, rather than just voting *against* the ones who seem even worse.

    It’s a lousy system. Still, it’s the best one in the world, just wish we could find some way to clean it up a bit.

  8. It seems like an easy fix to me; an opted out or give permission box to check in the ballot envelope, that way you can say “No Thank You I don’t want mailings from candidates”, or “yes I would like to have more information”. Then the information is open but the mailing lists are limited to those who want the mailings.

    We just need to find the right person to tell we want it that way.

    EDITOR NOTE–The right person is your legislator and he or she is the one wanting the info!

  9. Sad to see that Idaho politics has come down to the level of making a choice based on mail and phones.

    Here is a little wake up call for Gordon and the rest who feel the way he does…

    ALL parties rely on:
    Direct Mail
    Opposition research
    Voting records

    The list could go on and on.

    There is not one single technique or tactic used exclusively by one party or the other.

    Each party has lists upon lists of voter ID and this can get extremely detailed. For example; a piece of direct mail could be targeted to a specific precint based on the demographics of that particular precinct or district. Doesn’t anyone remember soccer moms or nascar dads???????

    Please, give up the sanctimonious crap. Voting someone up or down because of a robo call or a piece of mail translates into pure laziness.

    I suggest to everyone out there, read up on the candidates or better yet, call them up and ask them questions for yourself. You might be surprised at what you find out.

    In fact, if more people actually found out where their candidate stood on issues that actually matter instead of bogus social issues that will never, ever get resolved in Idaho, we might find a competent legislature made up of women and men who can get things done from both parties.

    People, PLEASE THINK!!!!!

  10. Butch Otter lost my vote when his canned call came to me while eating dinner. Sorry Butch but I didn’t apperciate it.

    Oh sorry Butch you lost my vote long before that.
    Dang I forgot. You tried to sell public lands to your buddies.

  11. Jack Atkeson
    Oct 8, 2008, 6:57 pm

    Since we would be out of town on election day we decided to do absentee ballot.. guess what.. we have received phone calls from both party’s.. I am a Republican and i can’t understand the thinking on this. I thought who you vote for is private. DUH.. will just trash the political mail and hang up the phone.. shoulda checked first.. Jack Atkeson Meridian 83680

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